About two weeks into its launch and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 video game is a bonafide sensation. The fastest selling single day release in Playstation’s history with 2.5 million units sold within the first 24 hours, coverage about the game has been mostly positive these past two weeks. A great reprieve for Marvel’s console gaming division in an era where the brand’s AAA titles such as Midnight Suns, Marvel’s Avengers, and Guardians of The Galaxy ended up being commercial flops, the game has excelled all expectations, crowned by many outlets as the greatest Spider-Man videogame ever made. Perhaps even, the greatest superhero video game of all-time.

Needing to meet expectations as Marvel Entertainment’s best selling superhero (Amazing Spider-Man sill breaks the top 5 consistently according to ICV2 data) and Sony Entertainment’s most popular game for its Playstation console (the original was the PS4’s bestselling game), Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 works not because it takes a bold leap in its gameplay, but rather, because of it depicts just what it is that makes Spider-Man so special: grounded storylines of relatable struggles, filled with deep moments heart and great characterization. 

The storyline commences in classic Spider-Man fashion, with our heroes confronting a seemingly minor problem that swiftly snowballs into a massive crisis. As always, the Spider-Men grapple against overwhelming challenges while balancing their current responsibilities; all the while, still trying to rebuild their lives after such significant losses. 

Spider-Man 2’s Peter Parker

Peter, now in his early twenties, wrestles with the daunting task of establishing a meaningful career in a world where he no longer has Aunt May’s support or Otto Octavius’s mentorship. This narrative follows a traditional “with great power comes great responsibility” storyline that intertwines with meeting the symbiote, delving into Peter’s emotional evolution as a hero burdened by the weight of being Spider-Man. In this iteration, Peter seeks refuge from his own pain by defaulting towards the needs of feeding his self-imposed messiah complex. He finds solace in the suit as an easy answer in keeping up the pretense of the mission—eschewing the trauma that lurks just beneath the surface. 

This disacknowledgment, that sometimes it’s you who is the actual problem, takes a uniquely gradual approach to the symbiote story by giving heroic justification to Peter’s addiction to the suit. This relates a bit more towards the narrative of overachievers and workaholics who, much like Peter, tend to sidestep their emotional wounds by immersing themselves in work.

I can’t stress enough that this is why MJ is exceptional in this story, embodying everything Peter can’t. A woman of independence balancing both career and livelihood, MJ somehow remains an ever supportive partner to Peter – the issue only coming to a head in one of the game’s most memorable showdowns. Between the two of them, MJ becomes the better one at adulting, emphasizing her resilience in putting herself on the line so long as it protects her loved ones; serving as the voice of reason in speaking the difficult truths the group needs to hear. 

Meanwhile, Miles is now in his mid teens and on a journey that resembles so much of Peter’s at that age between balancing the duties of being Spider-Man, school, and learning what it means to be a hero. In many ways, the student learns to be better than the master, not just in natural ability, but in responsibility as well. Whether it’s in doing his duties as New York’s other Spider-Man or solving crises like problems at his Brooklyn’s Visions Academy, Miles really comes into his own. With so many standout moments whether it’s his love of music or the many ways Miles’ world represents the other side of NYC, especially African and Latino communities. 

Atop of this, the Spider-Men really do deal with grief in different ways in this chapter of their lives. With Peter it’s the loss of Aunt May and the ongoing symbiote suit storyline becoming a vessel of justification for taking things too far. Miles meanwhile, has a surprisingly deep arc I won’t spoil, but very much has to do with a reckoning regarding his father’s murderer, Martin Li. 

If all this wasn’t enough, adding complexity to the group becomes the introduction of Harry Osborne, Peter’s former best friend gone missing the past few years. His miraculous health recovery and return sees Peter remember the scientist he once wanted to be and opens his life up to a slew of enticing possibilities. Add in a symbiote story and the inevitable promise of Venom, while sprinkling in an edgier villain in Kraven the Hunter and his ilk, and what you get is a complexly layered Spider-Man story that forces him to face not just himself, but his rogues gallery legacy. All for a story that I think Spider-Man: No Way Home fans will likely enjoy.


This is also the real reason you are buying this game, as it’s quite literally 8 hours worth of cutscenes and oodles of characterization. What’s impressive, is that it works in making the player care about the stakes on these admittedly slightly repetitive missions. Whether it be Miles needing to write a college essay or just Peter needing to hold a job, this is the best world building for a superhero videogame ever conceived because it gets you to empathetically care.

Comics Lore in Spider-Man 2

I also stress that the game takes liberties in pulling from a surprising amount of Spider-Man comics. Kraven’s Last Hunt, by J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Zeck is the basis for the Kraven story, but the big one that’s not getting nearly enough coverage is Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s run on Venom back in 2018. I stress this because a lot of the designs take direct inspiration from the artwork by  Stegman and even the red-winged Venom are in fact, direct 1-1 references. Though it’s utterly unclear how much either were consulted or even involved in the game–as neither are being credited.

The game’s battles mostly retain their core mechanics, with the introduction of a new parry system aimed at increasing the game’s difficulty. This addition enables Spider-Man to anticipate and counter incoming attacks. However, what seems more suited for a character like Batman in the Arkham games seems somewhat out of place for Spider-Man, who is traditionally portrayed as a spidey-sense reliant dodger. While not overwhelming, this new mechanic does feel like a departure from Spider-Man’s iconic style and even if the counter becomes essential for avoiding high-damage hits in specific boss battles–it disrupts Spider-Man’s agility and flow.

New combat styles introduce unique special attacks, a departure from the original game’s reliance on Spider-Gadgets and suit powers. Combat still blends battle and execution through finishers and abilities to clear enemy waves, and even though new enemy types like drones and shield-wielding bosses make their debut, they become less challenging as players acquire even more abilities. The exception: Boss battles that sometimes require situational awareness with occasional button input requirements. 

Enemies now have weaknesses to specific attacks, such as symbiote strikes or Miles’ electricity. Skill trees offer Miles new electric attacks that involve electricity chaining, gap closing, and area-of-effect damage. Yet the best addition is the highly anticipated symbiote gameplay which delivers a brutality fans are unaccustomed to in the game. Without giving away too much, the symbiote abilities provide a thrilling and empowering experience when combined with the suit, making it most people’s favorite aspects of combat, especially, once Peter and Miles gain their ultimate abilities.

Stealth takes a huge drop in the game, which is good for Spider-Fans but terrible for platinum trophy chasers. Miles can still go invisible as needed but between the strong area of effect attacks and comboing between gadgets and abilities, it’s honestly better to rush into combat minus one exception: the web line, which allows you to create highwires so you can get the drop on and ensare enemies from above in stealth. A good but negligible addition, it’s also strangely necessary for the platinum trophy chasers as you’ll need to perform 25 of these takedowns before the game ends and there isn’t any stealth based areas at all in the post-game. 

Weirdly, the best stealth missions in the game feature Mary Jane, whose strange side quests feel more like a mission meant for Black Widow or a secret agent than an investigative reporter. It’s explained that this is due to her training in Sokovia, but without spoilers, my God,  these MJ missions secret soldier missions scale in difficulty the further the game gets.

Web Swinging Around

Web swinging is still the standard method of travel in Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 but what most have failed to mention, is the added accessibility features and means to direct and customize your aerial tricks and swing styles midair. Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of Spider-Man’s web wings, which allows Spider-Man to glide by hitting triangle. With added in wind tunnels and exhaust fans, Spider-Man is capable of keeping gliding momentum going making traversing the city so much easier. Though it is strange that this game is better at flying than any superhero or Superman game that’s come before it.

Enhancing the UI, players can swipe left on the touch pad to check out missions and see if objectives, photographs, or even chests of interest pop up on the map. Level design and floor puzzles remain excellent in depicting fun ways to see Spider-Man move between occasional breaks of expected level combat. The challenges are also varied in what you’re meant to do, that the game never once feels like a grind in terms of side missions.

The biggest change to the game is how it removed the need to stop a fixed amount of crime quests for progressing the district progress. It comes at an ironic cost in that you actually never have to stop a single ongoing crime in progress by the game’s end to either finish or platinum the game. 

Traversing New York is more expansive as it now includes both Queens and Brooklyn adding five districts atop of the nine original Manhattan ones, 14 in total. It’s vast yet encourages lots of early side questing, because getting a high enough district score level unlocks fast travel. That’s the thing everyone talked about upon release given the instant load times capable on the PS5’s SSD – being both instantaneous and non-flow breaking.

Finishing missions fulfill district area experience faster than other methods in the game. They also, provide advance tech and heroic tokens, resources necessary to upgrade your capabilities and gadgets. I do think sidequesting is an essential part of the game now in order to unlock tools like bounce webbing and the different venom powers well worth investing in, which make the game an entirely higher level of fun. 

Playing in either fidelity or performance isn’t that much of a breakthrough from the game’s predecessors given that this is already midway through the PS5’s lifecycle. Ray-tracing reflections and low shaded lighting is nice, though the parts you’ll notice it best is when wearing Spidey’s suits against the New York City backdrops, something the game has never been shy on promoting.

Eventually, you can unlock some of the game’s diverse amount of unique suits that calls back to every one of the movies and several comics. Some of these include a Peach Momoko’s Kumo suit, Spider Punk, Spider-Man 2099, Ben Riley Clone Scarlet Spider, Doc Ock Superior Spider-Man, a Black Panther Miles Morales suit, King in Black and Absolute Carnage styled Miles, Spider-Man Noir, and even, a few Moon Knight inspired variants. There’s even a product placement styled suit of Miles Morales sponsored by, Adidas, as the suits get that ridiculous.

Friendly Neighborhood Gadgets

Yet, the biggest changes from the game actually aren’t in wardrobe but in gadgets. Fans will immediately realize the two most popular gadgets are gone: the web grenade and impact webbing. The reasons for this change were to dial down one-shot enemy takedowns. See that the replacement items such as the web grabber, upshot, and ricochet web, served more as a set up for combos over giving the player easy ways to defeat enemies as that’s already what some of these added abilities already provide.

The juggling of these gadgets mixed with special abilities with the game’s already basic combat, makes it so that you’re virtually never short of options in a fight. The only major drawback I’ve experienced in combat? Is your hands. Because given how varied this combat is, the basic DualSense resistance and ruble triggers can cause basic cramping and pain after hours of play. Though I will admit that I do play on a heavier, DualSense Edge controller.

Because the map is twice as large, a lot of consideration was taken into account of not having missions feel repetitive. To do so, instead of looking for new elements to highlight about Manhattan, the game took a looking-within approach, highlighting the more heartfelt missions and stories. Thus, in lieu of taking photographs of the Empire State building, you’re looking for everyday people interacting within the city. Finally, post-game replayablity is a problem as there isn’t much to do outside a single repeatable challenge and New Game+ hasn’t released yet. 

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Despite this, the game is riddled with in-game side missions between solving level puzzles using input and location prompts, and battling city dangers like putting out fires. Throw in a slew of minigames like puzzle matching biochemistry (which replace creating in-game power voltage circuits) and surprisingly heartfelt side missions that can be as simple as mixing paint cans or complicated as mid-flight chasing some rocket birds, and this game really delivers on mixing up side quests.

Pulling some of the best of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, all of these villain side stories tend to be really compelling. One suprrising quest chain that deserves recognition in that it turns dark fast yet gets deep very fast, is the questline regarding The Flame. An in-game flame worshipping cult, this storyline does that amazing Spider-Man thing where a sidequest goes from simple story to absolutely essential and tied directly into the game’s lore. It’s also an opening up on one of the best storylines in the comics. Something fans are going to be hoping to see more of, either in the inevitable game DLC (which I personally think it will be featured in) or definitely, as a major arc in the inevitable sequel.

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Spider-Man 2 Settings and Design

A New York thriving with life, the city is now rife with easter eggs in ways more than ever before. You still have the classic Marvel overlays such as the Fantastic Four building, Wakandan Embacy, or even secret The Hand locations, but something a lot of players are missing out on is just stopping and doing some people listening. 

The game hosts a surprising amount of  conversational NPC dialogues. It’s the kinds of topics ranging from ridiculously hilarious topics of confusing vasoline with gasoline, to just enjoying guest over voice stars like Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion competing in cat bodega costumes.I also have to give credit the voice cast as there isn’t a single dry performance. 

Finally, the design in this game really pops as the city is rife with advertisement billboards, pop cultural references, and even more modern fashion sensibilities in clothing. The in-game podcasts between Danicka cast and J.J’s little commentaries on the state of the City keep up the immersion. There’s even a bit of meme referencing with a tiny rick rolling referencing in one of the game’s more adolecent missions. 

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It took me 50 hours to platinum the game, but that included looking for easter eggs and actually enjoying the open world design’s little intricades. Things that can only be best experiened by stopping and embracing the city and its denizens. There’s also plenty of fun collab missions that stand as testament to game design that have little in-game details easy to miss, whether it’s Bodega cat, or Hailey’s many instances of city graffiti. 

The Magic of Spider-Man 2 the video game

See, that’s where the magic is in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. There’s so much attention to detail and worldbuilding that it honestly should take a second or even third playthrough to catch it all. For comics fans, it’s also pretty obvious how secret reveals in the games final act are not-at-all coincidentally timed with Marvel’s Summer of symbiotes event that took place earlier this year. 

It is to me, also of no coincidence, no surprise how much this storyline coincides along with Venom’s 35th anniversary. Add in a few other cameos in this game tied to spoilers that I’ll omit yet are absolutely tied to the symbiote. Marvel fans should also not neglect that it was only last year, the MCU featured the Necrosword in Thor: Love and Thunder. So yes, it’s symbiotes everywhere at Marvel this year – with opened up doors of possibilities as to why…

If that weren’t enough, there was also some Miguel O’hara references along with a surprising Spider-bot quest that introduces a character directly cut from Across The Spiderverse. Without spoiling too much, there’s also a certain character with a special last name we learn about toward the end, meaning it’s becoming somewhat obvious to any diehard Spider-Man fan: that the game is opening up the gates to the chance for its own Spider-Verse story.

Spider-Man 2 Crossovers

If all of this wasn’t enough to convince you that this really is the most franchisable Spider-Man game ever made, then I’ll also stress that currently, the Spider-Man Unlimited comic run by Cristos Gage, Simone Buonfantino, and Fer Sifuentes-sujo, actually sees Spider-Man 1048 (the Marvel’s Spider-Man Videogame Peter) perform a team up with the primary 616 Spider-Man, to defeat a dimensional jumping, Spot– all for a quest that sees the duo try and defeat a Spot who’s operating, similar to Spot from Across The Spider-Verse

It’s confusing because 1048 himself also appears in the Across The Spider-Verse movie. So are these Easter Eggs or is Marvel trying to create the greatest crossover of all Spider-Man history by mixing the original with the Spider Verse movies, along with the video game version version? Who knows, but as a fan, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with the possibilities of whatever happens next can incorporate a whole lot of other related Spider-Man IP into itself.

Overall, Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man is by all means an amazing sequel worthy of all the praise and debate as to whether it is the greatest superhero videogame ever created – although for those not all that interested in Spider-Man’s extensive lore, the lore may feel repetitive. Still, the new powers make combat relentlessly empowering and the game’s redesigned quests make so that a single playthrough will feel equal parts fun as it is engaging. Best of all, the game’s storylines emphasized with its cut scenes is an obvious loveletter to every iteration of Spider-Man, allowing players to quite literally be Spider-Man by every definition of the word. 

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